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A Practical Guide to Hiring and Training Your Seasonal Agents

Posted by Francine Haliva on May 11, 2016 9:08:54 AM

Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I'll be there, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Whether it's October-December, February-March, or April-July, for many companies seasonal spikes drive a lot of business and are a welcomed opportunity for increasing sales. However, seasonal peaks can also present a huge challenge when it comes to balancing agent workloads.  To handle these spikes, you’ve probably needed to hire seasonal agents to supplement your regular contact center teams.

Drawbacks to hiring seasonal staff are often associated with increased recruiting and training costs. The same amount of effort is needed to recruit, hire, and train a seasonal person as a regular employee, for a mere 3-4 month return on investment.  On the other hand, providing exceptional customer service during these busy months will not only impact sales, but may also secure customer loyalty and promote repeat business once the peak season is over.

If you find yourself in a similar position and need to hire additional helping hands, here is a practical guide for hiring and training seasonal agents to make sure that your business flourishes year-round:

1. Create a positive start with a well structured onboarding program

Many pitfalls that plague employers stem from a failure to devote energy and resources to assembling an optimal seasonal workforce.  Giving seasonal agents the sink-or-swim test can impact your CSAT scores and hurt your bottom line. According to Nels Wroe, Product and Partner Director at SHL Group, “One of the most common mistakes is throwing seasonal hires on a sales floor with minimal training or onboarding, viewing them as a way to fill a schedule rather than as company representatives to serve your customers.”  Dedicating effort and resources to successful onboarding is important, particularly if your seasonal staff is large.

For additional guidelines to enhance your call center's onboarding and employee training, claim your free copy of our Ebook: Five Steps to a Successful Onboarding Process

2. Use Performance Support to provide guidance and on-the-job training

Losing money on agent training is a primary concern for most companies hiring seasonal agents.  Because you’re hiring staff for only a short period, you need to get them trained and on the floor as quickly and efficiently as possible.  Seasonal agents benefit from Performance Support systems that provide in-application guidance and desktop automation.  These systems substantially reduce classroom training time and allows learning to occur on the job, directly within the actual business application, and enable agents to perform at the expected level from the first time, every time.

A recent news article on icmi reviewed Israel's largest mobile telecom operator roll-out of Leo Performance Support by Kryon Systems. Pelephone communications was able to reduce its training period by 50 percent, while substantially reducing the time to proficiency of new customer service agents – which translated into huge cost savings of more than 1000 CSR training days each year.

Also read: Watch How Telecoms Drive ARPU with Performance Support

3. Have a system in place to prevent employee errors

From keying errors to compliance issues, just a ‘slip of the tongue' or a typo can cause considerable damage and unwelcome costs for a company.  With seasonal agents, the risk for error increases exponentially and is a major concern for employers.  Another advantage of having performance support systems in place is that they also identify errors in real-time, based on pre-defined rules.  The system can be set-up to monitor and validate data entry in critical fields or checkboxes and will alert the agent if he/she entered the wrong information or forgot to select a value, and then guides them through the correct steps to complete the task.  This prevents costly errors and ensures adherence to compliance regulations.

Here is a real-world example of how a leading cable provider used performance support to reduce (in some cases eliminate completely) keying errors resulting in significant savings for the company.

For a quick introduction to performance support and how you can have your seasonal staff acting like seasoned veterans in no time, watch this short video:

Kryon Systems helps organizations around the world to improve their business results by shortening or eliminating training, reducing users’ mistakes, increasing productivity and facilitating compliance with corporate policies and procedures. Kryon’s flagship solution, Leo, provides performance support to organizations. When using Leo, business managers can rest assured that their workforce performs at the level they expect, from the first time, every time.

Topics: Employee training, Contact Centers, Performance Support, Onboarding


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